Maxi Bohn is 27 years old currently living and working in Berlin. She is a dressmaker, fashion designer and pattern maker. I had the pleasure of meeting Maxi last summer during her visit to the states for her work on the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. She is a very fun, lively, and stylish woman, and I am so glad she was willing to share an interview with us. Thank you Maxi!
2010 – head of pattern design at Kilian Kerner / No Ifs / Berlin
2009 – dresser for the movie “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” / NYC
2008 – interning at the BOSS ORANGE Pattern Design Department / Metzingen, Germany
2008 – finished fashion college (Staatliche Modeschule Stuttgart) in Stuttgart, Germany (http://www.modeschule-stuttgart.de/pages/index.htm) no english version available
– What led you to this career path?
Actually, I never wanted to become a pattern maker. As a lot of girls in my school I wanted to work in the fashion business preferential in the design department, of course. I used to love shopping, styling, doing hair and make up, photography and all that stuff. So I totally met my cliché and aside from that I didn’t had any alternatives. Event planning would have been one, but I thought fashion would be more my thing. Right after school I wanted to study fashion design but in Germany you need to do a practical training first for learning how to sew. My mom’s boss had a brother with a small sewing company in our city, so I asked there and I became their apprentice as a dressmaker for 2 years. I hated it but liked the fact that I’m able to sew stuff well. After I finished the apprenticeship with really good results my teacher told me to go to the fashion college in Stuttgart. I should become a pattern maker, she said. Well, the school was about designing and pattern making so I went there. And in those 2 years I discovered my passion for pattern making.
– How did you start?
The fashion college in Stuttgart worked hand in hand with the company HUGO BOSS based in a small swabian village close to Stuttgart. For every graduating class they did a design competition called the “BOSS FASHION AWARD”. The best three would win a practical training and money. At this time I already knew that I wanted to become a pattern maker and wasn’t that keen about it but unexpectedly I won the third price. After talking to the human resources department they made it possible that I can intern in the pattern design department of BOSS ORANGE. In those six months I really learned a lot, about the industrial way to make clothes.
– How far has it taken you?
Short after that I went to NYC with a foundation assisting young trainees. I worked in the costume department of the Disney production for the movie “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. This let me have a look at the more hand made clothing production. It was awesome to work with those ambitious people and meeting Nicolas Cage. After going back to Stuttgart I decided to go to Berlin. So I grabbed my stuff fitting in one suitcase and my computer. The friend I was visiting there took me to a job interview at the label Kilian Kerner the next day and that was the day I started working there. He needed pattern makers to build up a second label “No Ifs”. After three months I became the head of pattern design. I organized the work of three pattern designers and 4 interns. I coordinated the sampling in Turkey and Poland. I worked there two seasons and assisted at three shows of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. This was the most awesome experience in my life.
– How long have you been making your own clothes?
They first pieces I made during my apprenticeship as a dressmaker. In the following years I never really found the time to do my own stuff. Since two years I’m helping two friends in my hometown in the middle of Germany to build up an own streetwear label called “MZUO”, but it’s more a hobby than a fulltime job. We are doing only jerseys but want to go on with denim in the future. There I’m doing everything from the design to pattern making. That’s fun and I have my creative freedom.
– Where do your ideas come from?
For “MZUO” I orientate on what is worn on the streets in Berlin and my hometown. As we’re really on the beginning of the label we have to focus on what will be sold for sure. Most ideas I get come from parties I attend. People are going to dress up but want to feel comfortable while dancing. This is always on my mind – danceability! Fortunately I’m in the lucky position to know how to manage the everlasting problem: How to manufacture the item to make it look expensive, but make sewable in the cheapest way. This always influences my work. This might not sound sexy, but it’s the everyday reality of a pattern maker.
– What are you doing that is different? Or that you want to be remembered for?
As already announced in the last question the whole manufacturing process is on my mind while designing or making patterns. This leads me to problems while designing, because my fantasy is circumscribed but it really helps for the industrial part. It’s not that often that a pattern maker can sew very well and understands which chaos is going on in a designers head. I can, because I am a dressmaker, designer and pattern maker. This made me understand Kilians ideas really quick, helped me finding solutions for couture details and accelerated the process of sampling and production. When I look at his scribbles my first idea is: How can this be sewn the easiest without looking cheap. Every item becomes like a crossword puzzle. You don’t know the final solution but you know how to get there step by step always learning something new.
– How has your work changed over time?
Well, it didn’t really change. I just got faster and sometimes when I look at scribbles I can tell immediately if it will work or not.
– What are your goals?
This is really subject-specific but I’ll try to explain. One day I want to be able to draw the sleeve (head) of a men’s jacket without any construction or calculation. And everybody who has ever sewn or constructed a sleeve knows what I am talking about ;o)!!!
– What made you stop/keeps you going?
I love the idea of people trying on clothes, I made the pattern of, are thrilled how good their legs, buns, waists, boobies or whatever look in it.
– Share a story with us about a fun day on set, or about a favorite project you completed, or a time that you were really happy to be doing what you do.
My favourite project in the last time was the metal item for Kilians latest Fashion Week Show in Berlin. He had this idea really early about this skirt made of thinnest chiffon fixed on a metal top closed with screws. So there I was… no clue about metal, screws or its manufacturing. First I started to tinker that of paperboard. The second try looked good already. There were some guys in Nuernberg, Bavaria who are doing accoutrements of knighthood. So I tried my best to explain that we need this thing for a high fashion show. Nearly every day we were talking on the phone to solve problems, discuss how to polish the several parts and how the model will get in there. Till the end I didn’t know if my idea will work out – it was thrilling!
Then finally one day before the fitting our “Lady Gaga tank” (as I called it) arrived and it looked sick. It was so cool. We had three models looking gorgeous in it. The tallest one with the sexiest hips was going to wear it, so everything seemed to be perfect. Till the evening my colleague discovered that it began to rust. Yes, I’m not kidding – it was rusting two days before the show. I was close to a nervous breakdown, as you can imagine. The next day we went to a huge hardware store and bought everything that might help. My girls were burnishing and burnishing and burnishing for hours till it looked like the day we got it. Otherwise this would have been a total disaster.
– Any role models?
Not really, but I’m always excited about the perfect fit of the clothes of Jil Sander and Balenciaga. Stylewise it’s Marlene Dietrich and Lady Gaga.
– Any advice for new comers?
Don’t ever think you are not experienced enough. In fact you are but everybody in your position was but they did it somehow, so now it’s your turn. Just do it.